"A deathbed shouldn't be the peacemaker in this family." Fifteen-year-old Renee Steele never understood what PaPa's words meant, until she's caught in the middle of a growing battle between her two older cousins. Their clashing attitudes regarding skin tone, trigger a sensitive nerve in their Grandma Bell.
As tension mounts between the three girls, Grandma Bell detects trouble returning from the grave. She’s determined to stop it, and takes the girls on a quest back in time to do it.
Her narrative begins with her secret courtship and eloping with Pa-Pa, “Buck Steele”, because their fathers are archenemies. Due to a lack of money, the newlyweds are forced to live with Buck’s parents, Silas and Emma. Grandma Bell's newlywed dreams turn into her worst nightmare, as she begins her married life as the despised dark-skinned daughter-in-law. Her presence does more than anger her in-laws…it haunts them!
We have all made decisions in life based on what we see moreso than what we might really know. It's hard to admit sometimes, but we are quick to judge things by appearance. In Pamela and Joel Tuck's COLOR STRUCK we see the effects of judging on the outward appearance moreso than who a person is.The characters bring out the best and worst of all of us, showcasing how even today we praise and criticize based on the shape and size of things and people around us.The book should spark a conversation that still needs to be addressed today, and I think if given a chance, it can do just that.Definitely an excellent read.
Grandma Bell refuses to allow her granddaughters to distance themselves based on prejudice. Renee Steele is caught in the middle of her two cousins, Cherie and Pat's growing battle. Cherie has been ignoring her cousins at school and hanging with only light-skinned girls, thinking that because Pat and Renee are darker that they would be nothing and go nowhere in life. Grandma Bell decides to take the girls down memory lane by telling them of their family history. She begins with the story of how she met and married Pa Pa Steele, William "Buck" Steele. Buck courted Bell and convinced her to marry him. After they elope, Bell finds out that Buck has no money and they have to live with his parents. The Steeles wanted their son to marry well. And by that they meant marry a nice light-skinned woman. When Buck brings Bell home and she is just as dark as Father Steele, the beginning of her nightmare begins. Secrets are revealed and past hurts are healed in COLOR STRUCK.
The Tucks have brought a story of healing and forgiving. I recommend this book for young adults. They will get to learn a little of how African Americans struggled within their own community. And see how far we have come and hopefully not repeat the same mistakes.
This book was provided courtesy of the author for review purposes.
A MUST read for every pre-teen and teenager. A powerful story of family that depicts the ties that bind family members together.
Now, I consider the author a very good friend of mine so consider my astonishment when I began reading dialogue that is soooo beautifully written! I knew Pamela Tuck was talented but a true master of dialect and dialogue is revealed throughout this tale.
Kudos to the author and to the characters brought alive in Color Struck.
Like family reunions, storytelling answers many questions. When children have a storyteller in the family, it helps them to understand their importance, similarities and differences between their siblings and other family members. When a family member tells a story of how their parents met and where they came from, it gives the child more knowledge of who they are and where they come from. Grandma Bell leaves fingerprints for her three granddaughters after she notices some tension between them, and she asks "What ails you?"
Pat proceeds to tell Grandma that since her cousin Cherie started attending honor classes and hanging out with her "light-skinned friends," she has been acting uppity. She also mentions how Cherie disowned her and Renee and even made Renee cry. After confirming with Renee that what Pat was saying was the truth, grandma comes to two conclusions; 1) Renee has a color problem and 2) its about time the family secret is told. It is a secret that she kept while her husband Buck was alive out of respect for him. From this point on in the story, we are privileged to partake on a journey which begins in 1947, a journey of family, in-laws and secrets surrounding light-skinned and dark-skinned folks.
Color Struck takes the reader to Greenville, North Carolina to a house that William "Buck" Steele built with hands of love and filled it with even more love and family. Grandma Bell was Buck's baby doll, and his love for her was long, which is more than we can say about his mother or father Emma and Silas Steele. They were both bitter and just plain ole mean. They treated Bell less than human for years because of the color of her skin. By the grace of God, He kept her and her obedience granted her favor.
I wish I could've read Color Struck by a fireplace because you escape right into the book when "listening" to Grandma Bell tell her story. This was one of the most emotionally-charged books I've read. Page 59 of the book starts the chapter with a reflection quote: "A family is where you're supposed to be nourished and grow, isn't it? How did Grandma become the beautiful person she was with such strong roots? Especially with little sunshine and all rain." How Bell lived with her abuse is discussed in the book, and Grandma Bell tells each of her granddaughters so that they don't repeat this color cycle. Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck is an excellent read.
A few minutes ago I read the last page of "Color Struck". I did not stop until I finished reading. I had to take a moment to exhale and wipe away tears. What a powerful piece of writing! There were [reflections] of my early childhood with a sister who was a few shades lighter than me. My mother's death, when I was 22 months, began my journey wrapped in dark skin. My caregiver, my mother's former stepmother, took the two of us when my mother died. She decided to give my sister away to a couple, light skin wife & dark skin husband, in our rural community. I suffered a second loss. None of this stings as much as being told a few days later, "I shoulda gave you away and kept your sister cause you too dark." I was four years old. That night I sat in that number three tub and tried to scrub the black off my skin. It didn't work. Your book is timely and I am thankful to have found it in my search for literature for African American children.
Thank you for addressing an issue that still impacts some children (and adult) lives. I look forward to reading more of your books. Please consider sending notification and if possible, a copy for us to share in our column. I teach a children's literature course at Marygrove College where I'm Coordinator of the Graduate Reading Program. Your book will be required reading this Fall!
I'm proud to announce that Color Struck has won the Flamingnet Top Choice award. This award is given by teen and young adult reviewers.